Introduction: It is said that Billy Graham once attributed the large number of responses to his sermons on one central theme. It was, that he always drew attention in his sermons to the Lord Jesus Christ and to ‘the power of the cross’.
As we draw close to Good Friday, it’s good to remind ourselves of the power of the cross and what the Lord accomplished through His mighty sacrifice. Although the cross was a symbol of execution at that time (much like an electric chair today), God’s saving power in full was revealed at the cross. It symbolized the greatest rescue mission the world has ever seen!!
From Colossians 2:13-15, I would like to leave 3 thoughts about ‘The Power of the Cross’ in this sermon outline. They are:
I remember a song I used to love to listen to in my younger days. It was sung by Reggae singer Johnny Nash and it went like this:
Every night I wake up crying, Tears on my pillow, pain in my heart, You on my mind.
Everybody has cried at some time or the other. Some may cry often with their tears being visible, while others may cry only on the inside, with no visible sign of tears. A few men pride themselves by saying that they never cry!! A quote however says, ‘Less wars would be fought if men cried more often’!
It is said that a well- known evangelist was once preaching in Chicago on the first day of a series of Gospel meetings. At the end of the sermon, he felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to give people an opportunity to invite Jesus into their hearts. However, since the meetings were scheduled to go on for many days, he apparently decided to make that invitation the following day. That night, the great fire of Chicago swept through the town, causing much havoc, destruction and loss of lives. As a result, the evangelist decided that he would never again close a Gospel message without giving people an opportunity to invite Christ into their hearts and to receive His salvation and eternal life.
SCRIPTURE – The name of the second (son) he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Genesis 41:52) NKJV.
In this sermon we will look at the life of Joseph. It’s an amazing story, the kind of story that dreams are built on. After many unexpected twists and turns, and thirteen years of toil and affliction, God blessed Joseph in an unimaginable way! As a result, he became the second most powerful man in Egypt (Genesis 41:41-44), and thereafter, God blessed Joseph with two sons (Genesis 41:50). He named his second son Ephraim, which had the meaning of being ‘fruitful through affliction’ (Genesis 41:52). The word ‘affliction” is translated ‘suffering’ in the NIV.
Many buildings that look strong on the outside develop cracks and some collapse, due to the foundation being weak. Bad foundations produce bad buildings! It’s no different with building a blessed family. Didn’t the Lord Jesus Himself give us the parable of the house on the Rock and the one on sand (Matthew 7:24-27)? The house on the Rock stood firm because it had the right foundation.
In this article, I would like to share what I believe are 5 vital foundations for building a blessed family. They are:
I once read a story in a magazine of an atheist who loved nature & had gone on a hike on a nature trail. As he kept admiring the scenes around him, he lost track of the trail. When eventually the time came for him to get back, he realized that he was hopelessly lost. So, for the first time in his life, he prayed to God.
With the Coronavirus sweeping across almost all borders, fear and anxiety has gripped hearts around the world. No one seems safe anymore and everyone is searching for methods of protection. In times of crisis however, the children of God, as it has happened right through history, can find encouragement and comfort through the promises of God. One such passage people often turn to for comfort is Psalm 91.
As I look at social media today, I find many people sharing either the entire passage of Psalm 91 or at least parts of it, to strengthen others. Through this article, I would like to share my thoughts as well regarding this beautiful Psalm. Do keep your Bible open to Psalm 91 as you read.
Background to Psalm 91:
Most of the 150 Psalms recorded in the Bible have a clearly defined author. Some of the authors are David, Solomon, Moses, Asaph, Korah, Heman and Ethan. However, some of the Psalms don’t have such a clearly defined author and interestingly, one such Psalm is Psalm 91! The NIV Study Bible in its notes says, “It was probably written by one of the temple personnel (a priest or Levite) as a word of assurance to godly worshippers”. Isn’t it amazing that the author of such a beautiful portion of scripture is unknown.
As the author wrote the words of the Psalm under the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit, he probably never dreamt of what would happen. That it would bring great comfort to literally thousands and millions of people through the passage of history, and to thousands more, facing a deadly virus in 2020! This should encourage us to know that anything we do for the Lord, no matter how insignificant it may seem at present, can touch many, many lives, not just for the present, but for future generations as well. So, during this difficult time, let’s do all we can to bless others, under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit. Who knows how much impact it will have!
Notes on Psalm 91:
This Psalm of 16 verses can be broken down into two sections, the first being verses 1-8, and the second being verses 9-16. The first two verses of both segments (verses 1-2 and 9-10), carry very similar thoughts, reminding us, and reiterating, that God’s protection rests on His children. Let’s look at the first section.
Section 1: (Verses 1-8)
Verses 1-4 of the Psalm illustrate at least 7 powerful symbols of God’s protection. They are; a) His Shelter – We hear of many shelters today including nuclear shelters, bomb shelters and doomsday shelters. We may soon even hear of virus shelters. Can we reflect on God’s shelter as well? (Not sure why, but as I type this, the words of a song written and recorded by the ‘Gentle Giant’ of country music, Don Williams, comes to mind. It was a favorite of mine in my younger days and was titled ‘In the shelter of your eyes’). b) His Shadow – Similar to a shade that protects from the blazing sun or torrential rain. c) A Refuge – The Longman Dictionary describes ‘Refuge’ as “A place that provides protection or shelter from danger”. d) A Fortress – Providing protection to a city e) His Wings – Resembling the tenderness with which a mother bird protects her offspring f) A Shield – Used in times of war and which can be used now, when the enemy fires his darts at us. We are right now in the middle of a very different but dangerous war. g) Rampart – I am reminded of the walls of the historic fort built in the city of Galle, in my country Sri Lanka, hundreds of years ago. They still stand firm today and the fort is a much visited heritage site.
As we consider the 7 symbols of protection shown above, let’s be truly encouraged by the defence mechanisms the Lord has given us. Why then, should we allow fear and anxiety to overwhelm us?
Verses 3 and 5-6, show us the stark reality of two threats we face in life; the threat from enemies (fowler’s snare and arrows) and the terror of disease epidemics (pestilence and plagues). However, we are assured once again of God’s protection at all times of the day (refer words like night, day, darkness, midday). This protection is further emphasized in verse 7 of Psalm 91.
As I was reflecting on Psalm 91:7 and the reference to ‘thousand and ten thousand falling’, it seemed so very similar to what we are experiencing around the world today. However, at this crucial time, I would like to suggest that we look at things from a different perspective.
Joshua 23;10 says, ” One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as He promised”. Jesus also said, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). While the passage this verse is found in may relate primarily to sorting out sin and relationship problems in the church, it also tells us that we can find God’s help and guidance, whenever we join together in agreement in prayer.
May I therefore humbly suggest that you find a friend that you can pray with everyday during this crisis. Besides that, maybe you could also find a vulnerable, high risk person who you could encourage in prayer everyday.
Let’s pray together for an end to the spread of Covid-19 and for a medical solution to be found speedily. Let’s pray for the thousands of families that have lost loved ones. Also, let’s pray for the thousands affected at present and for the thousands on the front-lines, battling the virus. Our prayers can reach out to thousands because the living God still answers prayer!! Let’s also pray that after decades of abuse by man, the beautiful earth the Lord has given us will be rejuvenated and healed as it goes through a period of rest! (Many more current prayer needs can be found on different church websites).
Section 2: (Verses 9-16)
As mentioned earlier in this article, verses 9-10 of Psalm 91, correspond with verses 1-2. They bring reassurance of God’s protection. That protection is further emphasized in Psalm 91:11-12 through the ministry of His holy angels. The New International Bible Commentary says, “God’s tender care is such that He even supplies a celestial bodyguard around the believer, who carry him along the rock-strewn road” (Pages 619-620).
Some believe that Psalm 91 is also a Messianic Psalm, partly because satan quoted verses 11-12 to Jesus during His temptations (Luke 4:10-11). (How right Shakespeare was when he wrote, “The devil can cite scripture for his purpose” in ‘The Merchant of Venice’). Jesus however, refused to be drawn into temptation and rebuked satan with scripture. Jesus would most probably have ended up as a celebrity if He had followed satan’s advice and thrown Himself down from the highest point of the temple. He refused however because He only wanted to fulfil God’s will.
In these difficult times, let’s be grounded in the promises of God’s Holy Word and let’s share His powerful Word wherever we can. Let’s also humble ourselves in His presence and desire to honor Him in every way.
Psalm91:13 brings up the challenge of wild beasts as reflected in the imagery of the ferocity of a lion and the poison of a cobra. This is illustrated again in verse 13 through the references to a ‘great lion’ and ‘the serpent’. It’s good to remind ourselves that “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). In Genesis 3, satan also came in the guise of a serpent to tempt Adam and Eve. However, we are once again assured of victory (tread/trample) as we resist him (Refer also Genesis 3:15 and 1 Peter 5:9).
In the final 3 verses of Psalm 91, God’s blessings are proclaimed on the people. Eight such blessings are assured for those who love the Lord (verse 14), acknowledge His name (verse 14), and call upon Him (verse 15). They are:
a) “I will rescue him” (14) b) “I will protect him” (14) c) “I Will answer him” (15) d) “I will be with him in trouble” (15) e) “I Will deliver him” (15) f) (I will) honor him” (15) g) “With long life will I satisfy him” (16) h) “(I will) show him my salvation” (16)
In closing, I pray that the thoughts in this article will encourage you and give you new hope today. That they will help you face life wherever you are, in the midst of the difficult challenges around. However, please also take all necessary precautions as advised by the authorities regarding Covid-19, including social distancing.
One thing is also certain and it is that death will come to all of us one day, with or without a virus! Isn’t it a great blessing to know that we have a Savior who has opened the portal to heaven and to His eternal life. Therefore, let no fear cloud your heart for nothing can “Separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). And if maybe you have no assurance of eternal life right now, let me encourage you to open your heart to Jesus and invite Him as your Lord and Savior. He is reaching out to you now with His love.
And by the way, in eternity we will meet the person who wrote this beautiful Psalm under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit! We can maybe tell him then how much it comforted us in the midst of Covid-19 in 2020!! God bless you. #Faith over Fear
This is the video of a sermon I preached at the People’s Church in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Sunday, October 6th, 2019. It is based around Elijah’s ministry and talks about some lessons God takes us through to prepare us for His powerful plan for our lives. Be blessed as you watch.
This is the video of a sermon I preached at the People’s Church, Sri Lanka, on Sunday, 28th July 2019. It is centered around the encounter Moses had with God at the burning bush. For an outline of the sermon, please click here. Thanks.
This is an outline of a sermon I preached at People’s Church, Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday 28th July 2019. The sermon covers some key points from the meeting God had with Moses at the burning bush. I pray the outline will be useful to you.
I. IT HAPPENED IN THE MUNDANE
God met with Moses while he was attending to his daily work as a Shepherd.
Exodus 3:1-2 “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.”
heard a Pastor mention that he waited 6 long years to win the affection of his
future wife. The Founding Pastor of People’s Church in Sri Lanka, Pastor Colton
Wickramaratne received a vision from God in 1957 about his future ministry. He
had to persevere through many delays and challenges before the large vision
became a reality. When I began my career in Radio Broadcasting, I waited 3
years to get a proper break on the Radio Station. I almost quit, but thankfully
God came through at the right time and my broadcasting career expanded
thereafter. A number of couples I know prayed earnestly for a child for many
years before the prayer was answered.
This is the video of a sermon that was preached on Sunday, November 25th,2018, at the People’s Church in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The sermon shows how we can finish our race well through 5 practical points. It is based around the Apostle Paul’s final instruction to Timothy in the last chapter of 2 Timothy. May it encourage you to finish your race well!